Recently I was invited to do a presentation on the how Motion and Final Cut Pro can work together using Templates. It was a great podcast and Jeff and Sam were great fun to speak with.
In the podcast we went over how simple it can be to create a template in Motion and then use that template inside of Final Cut to speed up the workflow. Please key me know what you think of the podcast.
I had the great privilege of being invited to be interviewed on Jtown.tv on some the benefits I have found using Final Cut X.
Here is a little backstory:
Originally I was very frustrated with Final Cut X when it was first released. I thought it was amateurish, unprofessional and worst of all I had to learn something new. After 10+ years of using Final Cut I had to relearn the whole software :(.
Eventually after looking around at alternatives and complaining to anyone that would listen, I decided to subside my fear of the unknown and gave Final Cut X a try. Now one year later I can say that I LOVE FCPX! FCPX has helped me speed up my workflow, reduce tedious work I had to do in the past and I actually have much more fun editing my projects now. In a way I feel we are heading closer in the direction of controlling video like Tom Cruise in Minority Report.
After a recent discussion with members of a local South Florid Final Cut Users Group affirming my love Final Cut X, I was asked by Jesse Miller to share some of my views on why I love FCPX on his web show. The show will be broadcast today May 16th at 6:30pm Easter Time. I am excited to be part of it and to be able answer everyone’s questions. I hope to see you all there.
Update: If you missed the live show, the recording be viewed on their website: Jtown.tv
Since the last interview with Josh Bodnar close to a year ago we have kept in contact, during that time he has offered me valuable advice and insight into the industry. I am such a big fan of his work and his ideas that I wanted to take the opportunity and do a second interview in which we dive deeper into his creative realm.
For those that have not read the first interview, Josh Bodnar is an Emmy Award winning Editor for the title design sequence of Showtime’s ”Dexter”, and Emmy nominated title design sequence, “Kingdom Hospital”. His work is also part of the New York Museum of Modern Art Permanent Collection. Bodnar’s client list includes HBO, Showtime, Sundance, MGM, Touchstone Pictures, Warner Brothers, Disney and Cartoon Network just to name a few. Josh has worked for Digital Kitchen, Superfad, Shilo and is currently an editor at The WhiteHouse.
– Hello Josh, it has been close to a year since the last interview, is there anything new you would like to share with us since then, such as new break troughs, new discoveries, new adventures in your editorial art? Has it been a year? Feels like yesterday. The coolest thing about my job is every day is a new adventure. Something’s always changing and I’m constantly being exposed to new people and cool creative. Recently, I had the opportunity to work with world-renowned photographer & director Jim Krantz. We worked together on an art piece called The Way of the West. The subject matter alone was amazing to cut. How many times can you say you edited cowboys? Everything from the technical aspect of how the footage was shot to how we crafted the edit was a huge undertaking. I also took on the role of compositing. It’s something I enjoy doing when I have the time, which doesn’t happen frequently. The composite film segments in this piece I viewed as characters, each with their own personality. It was a complete blast and the end result I think looks amazing.
– What do you love most about being a Video Editor? I feel that as an editor you are the gate-keeper. You’re in control of just about everything. That’s a position that I enjoy very much. Being able to watch the creative process on all levels rise from inception to completion is very liberating. Also, working with so many different disciplines is such a cool thing. Being able to tap into the creative side of people who you’re collaborating with is always a cool experience for me. Everyone has so many innovative ideas and it’s inspirational to see them bring it to the table.
– What questions do you ask when first working with a new client? I don’t really talk that much . . I do more listening than anything else. Being in tune with my creatives is key. Understanding where they’ve been with the concept of the project and where they want to go with it is always my concern. I try to look at every project objectively from all angles. Having the ability to see the end result through the eyes of the client, the consumer, and my creative peers is something I try to keep in perspective as work. You never have the ability to optimize everything – you can’t get everyone happy all the time, but it’s always the top priority for me.
– Are there any mistakes one should avoid as an editor that you have learned throughout your career? I think the biggest mistake is not being prepared. As an editor there’s a fine balance you need to uphold between organization and flexibility. There’s a lot of land mines to potentially blow up in your face if you don’t have your act together. Through preparation you can have better control of your work and navigating the creative process becomes fun, not a chore.
– Any tips on how to better prepare yourself for a project? I always recommend doing some research on who you’re going to be working with. These days it’s rather easy to research with the help of google. I have several repeat clients, but I continue to meet new people. Because you’re spending so much time together in the edit suite it’s always nice to know who you’re hanging with. I’ve found that a lot of my clients have cool interests/ hobbies that we end up talking about. The research can pay off.
It’s also good to cover a wide range of ground with your work. Exceeding expectations and going above and beyond is always important. You probably know they’re gonna want to see the story board they shot. So, you give them that option along with your option and two others they’re not expecting. Every client wants to know you’re utilizing their footage. No one wants to just see one thing. By nature, we editors assemble images. So get creative and cut it up.
Finally, music. You want to always have an arsenal of music. Music, believe it or not, is seventy-five percent of the battle. I’ve experienced what a bad track of music and a good track of music can do to a piece. Music, at times, can be such an ambiguous thing. It’s hard for people to communicate in terms of music. Some common terms we’ve all heard at one point or another are “energetic”, “cinematic” and my favorite “organic”. As an editor, being able to understand and filter what those terms mean – – and turn that into something your client wants is the golden ticket.
– What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career and how has it helped you? Sometimes you need to drive like you stole it. Be fearless and the results are almost always in your favor. People see your passion and that’s exciting for everyone.
– Are there any tools other than Final Cut Pro that you use during your editorial process? For a long time I solely cut on Avid. However, now I tend to cut more and more on FCP. I still edit on both applications, but I like the workflow, plugins, and the instant flexibility of FCP. Sometimes I go into After Effects for specific needs. I’ve used apple color here and there for specific looks or feels of what we are trying to achieve. However, 90% of the time I nail what I need to get accomplish in FCP.
– Any Final Cut Pro tips or tricks you may like to share that can help us become more efficient editors? A magician never reveals his secrets.
– What new things would you like to see added to Final Cut Pro, what is currently missing? Maybe this already exists and I just don’t know about it, but I’d like to see the ability to share projects on a server or shared storage where multiple people can access the same project at the same time. I have a lot of problems working with my assistant where we can’t work on the same project in FCP together. We end up having to save new versions of projects and swap those back and forth.
– What is a typical day like at White House Post? Pretty cool man. The creative editors at this place are true artists. I’m honored to be apart of such a powerful editorial force. It’s a real family atmosphere in every Whitehouse office. One cool thing that I can share with you is Friday Films. Just as the name states each Friday a new creative film is made. Something short and sweet. Some of the shorts are comedy some of the shorts are visual – – all shorts are created in Whitehouse offices by Whitehouse employees. It’s an extremely cool idea that promotes creative ideas and creative editing.
– What do you enjoy most about working with White House Post? The people. Truly an amazing bunch of folks!
– I love your blog, http://editorsdecisionlist.tumblr.com/, it is always full of inspirational and creative imagery, can you explain your blog to us? Well, it all really all started when I became a featured news contributor to the creative league . I’ve been posting news for them for over 2 years now. I think one day I realized that I wish I had all my posts in one place, as I seem to reference most of them for inspiration. So . . my blog started. I use the blog as a collection of things that I like. Things that get me excited. Things that make me want to create. I use the blog as a space to do research on the things I like and what I’d like to be involved in. I’m a big fan of putting things out in the universe. If you want something you have to put it out there. My blog for me is really a creative, inspirational, on-line scrap-book. It just so happens I have a lot of followers now.
– Who is your favorite editor and why? Angus Wall. I had the opportunity to meet Angus at the 2004 Emmys when I was nominated for Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital. We were nominated together that year for Outstanding Main Title Design and he won the Emmy for Carnivale’s opening main title sequence. I’ve admired his style since the 90’s on a pure editorial level. His ability to embrace new technologies and push the envelope as an editor is something we have in common.
One of my favorite spots of his is Adidas slugs. It’s a very old spot, but it’s one that has stayed with me. My favorite part in the spot is the interaction of the shoes and the bulldog. It’s the perfect moment where the visuals, the music and the sounds of the dog barking all collide. That synergy in that moment makes the spot for me.
My other favorite is Angus’ Xelibri fashion phone spot. It’s the best use of speed ramps PERIOD!! This is what speed ramps were born to do. Punctuate.
– What is your favorite movie of all time and why is it your favorite?
Tough one. I have so many. Probably Heat directed by Michael Mann.
– We all need time to relax, unwind and relax after a full day of work, what do you like to do to help put your mind at ease? I’m not built that way. I don’t think I really relax that much. I’m constantly working and networking with new people and projects. I do like to enjoy a Hoegaarden beer now and again.
– What are the top three website you like to visit often? I have a daily routine of about 15 websites and blogs I check out. To be on top you have to be in touch. I can give you a few random sites I check out. Dark roasted blend: http://www.darkroastedblend.com/ Computer love: http://www.computerlove.net/ Prolost: Stu Maschwitz, Director & co-founder of the orphanage; currently CD for Red Giant Software: http://prolost.com
– Do you have the reel you originally sent to Digital Kitchen which helped get you into their door? It would be nice to see how far you have gone in your editing career. I do. I keep every reel I’ve ever created. I also have every edit I’ve ever assembled. It’s quite a huge archive and pretty massive. My career has come along way and I try to always look forward in everything I do, I don’t have a link. It’s actually on S-VHS tape. So trying to get it off that is a chore in its self
– Looking into the future, where do you see yourself 10 or 20 years from now? Editing with great people who love doing great work. I have to say I’m looking forward to editing like Tom Cruise in Minority Report some day. That would be so much fun.
I had the great pleasure of interviewing, Emmy Award winning editor, Josh Bodnar. He has helped produce such projects as, Emmy award-winning, title design sequence for Showtime’s “Dexter”, and Emmy nominated title design sequence, “Kingdom Hospital”. His work is also part of the New York Museum of Modern Art Permanent Collection.
Bodnar’s client list includes HBO, Showtime, Sundance, MGM, Touchstone Pictures, Warner Brothers, Disney and Cartoon Network just to name a few. Josh has worked for Digital Kitchen, Superfad, Shilo and is currently an editor at The WhiteHouse.
What drove you to become an editor? To begin, I actually started off in photography. A teacher of mine recognized I had an eye for unique shots. She suggested to me that I should take some video classes. Video was photography in motion, I remember her telling to me. While pursuing video I found the craft of editing. I was overjoyed that I was able to manipulate and transform things into whatever I could imagine. If was like I was in the dark room again, but this time with motion images. The thing I love about editing, even to this day, is that it’s a puzzle. There are infinite ways the story and shots can be put together. Your building something that can take on a number of emotions. That’s powerful.
What are your favorite video production tools of choice and why? A lot of people ask me this question. I have two answers. The first answer is I use both Avid and Final Cut Pro. 10% Avid and 90% FCP. More and more I’m using FCP. Although Avid is the industry standard – – it’s falling behind and doesn’t like to play well with others. FCP is so flexible that I can cut any format – with any frame base – anytime. I use the FCP studio package with Color and Compressor quite a bit as well.
My second answer to this question is that it doesn’t really matter. What really matters is the human behind the machine. The artist that can make his or her visions come to life. I’ve worked with a lot of great artists and I’ve seen some ridiculous work made out of a regular applications. Your biggest creative asset is yourself. The minute you rely on plug-ins your finished.
Audio is a very distinctive attribute to your work, how is it developed and manipulated into your workflow? Audio is a huge portion of what I do. I personally like to work with the track before I start editing. I try to play it over in my head and visualize the edit and sequence of events. However, typically I’m working with a composer or and audio house that I collaborate with. We go back and forth like a teeter-totter. I edit a rough cut to a demo track – the composer comes back with more instrumentation – I enhance the edit and fine tune it to the music. We go back and forth til we find our best work.
Explain your “preferred” editorial process. What are the main steps, you always like to follow, from the time you first meet your client to final approval?
The great thing about editing is every job is unique. However, I usually like to talk to the director first. They’ve been attached to the job for a longer period and have pretty specific ideas on what they are looking for. The next step is talking to the agency creatives. Usually their vision is similar to the directors, but often they have their own ideas as well. From there I watch the footage. I always watch the footage going into the machine. I like to get a raw viewing of everything that was shot. It also helps in putting ideas together and seeing what might be good takes. Then I edit. I usually crank out 4 versions of the edit. My version – The director’s version – What I think the agency is looking for (editing word-for-word the storyboards) – then an unexpected version, something completely different.
From there we (myself, agency & director) whittle it down to a version we all like. We present to client. Some times make revisions, sometimes not. Then finish.
Dexter was about a month-long process from start to finish. From the boarding phase – animatic phase – shooting phase – editing – reediting- reediting – and then finish.
Did you learn anything new on the Dexter Project? In terms of the process of editing no. I’ve worked with hollywood studios & production companies quite a bit and I’m always amazed each time that I’m always faced with a challenge. There is never a dull moment in entertainment work.
What advice do you give editors on taking their work to the next level, keeping their work unique and on avoiding or hurdling editor’s block?
Never say no. Always take every job good or bad. Because it’s not about the job, but rather the human connections you make. Exposing yourself to new people is how you get ahead and along the way your work get’s better. You have to have an open mind and be able to surround yourself with people who are better than you that’s how you become better.
As far as editing goes . . . be uncomfortable. Getting out of your comfort zone and feeling uncomfortable with your edits is how you progress.
It’s a fabulous award and I’m truly honored to be apart of the museum’s collection. The work in the collection is a Budweiser commercial. It won the AICP 2005 award for best table top. The spot is called “Fresh Pour”. It consists of 3 shots. A bottle cap opening that was done in 3D, a beer pour down into a glass, and a splash with a composited in bottle in a beer bubble. It was all shot with a phantom camera, which at the time was just out on the market. It was a daring new way of working at the time. Funny story,even though there was a full day of shooting for all the liquid elements, we actually ended up using the test pour we shot in the office for the final pour. I guess that shows you really don’t need anything elaborate sometimes. Check it out for yourself. Budweiser – Fresh Pour
What advise can you give video editors to further their social network?
You’d be surprised how many people you really know. I joined Linked in several years ago and people started finding me. The best advice I can give is to get your work out there and in front of people in any form you see best.
What is your favorite source for inspiration? Hand’s down fashion.
Who is your favorite artist and why? I’m not sure I have a favorite. I’m getting back into photography again believe it or not. One of my all time favorites is Platon. http://www.platonphoto.com/